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of the pastor, personally considered-merely for his accommodation and comfort—though these points can never be overlooked by a pious and affectionate people; but the church is bound thus to support him, that he may be able to discharge efficiently the duties of his office, by giving his whole time, and the undivided and unbroken energy of his mind, to his ministry; neither of which can be done, if he be left in want, or obliged to pursue some other employ. “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” 2 Tim. ii. 4. Let it never be forgotten that, as the ministry of the pastor is the instrumentality which the church employs, and is bound to employ, to secure the salvation of the world, its members lie under the same kind of obligation to keep him free from care, and secular employment, as to see that he does not depart from the faith and purity of the Gospel.
Finally. On this point, let it be observed, that the church is bound to secure a suitable building, in which the main, or, at any rate, the more public efforts of the pastor to promote the salvation of the world may be put forth. It is not, by this statement, meant merely that the obligation under which the members of the church lie to seek their own edification should lead them to provide a building for the purposes of public worship; nor, further, that that building should not be inconvenient and uncomfortable; though it may be well for those whose private abodes are spacious, and even elegant, to ask, where is consistency and conscience, if they allow the house of God to lie in dust and dilapidation ? But we take higher ground even than this. We mean that the duty they lie under to the world will not allow of their neglecting to do this. The Church is to extend, as we have seen, the knowledge of the truth, and thus promote the salvation of the world, by securing an efficient administration of the regular ordinances of Divine worship. The preaching of the Gospel is preeminently adapted to secure this end. But if its members refuse to provide a place in which the ungodly in their vicinity may hear the Gospel of salvation, or one which does not admit of their attendance, how can they discharge their duty towards them? The same general principles lead to the conclusion, that, without aiming at splendour in our places of worship, (which may be desired under the influence of the very worst feelings, they should, if possible, be not barely comfortable, but in some measure attractive, that they may invite the attendance of those whose spiritual benefit ought to be especially contemplated in their erection.
Thirdly. By aggressive as well as by attractive measures; i. e., the Church must not only hold up the light of a holy example, and provide for an efficient administration of Divine ordinances, but it must employ every possible effort to diffuse the light of truth throughout the immediate vicinity, yea, to send it to the ends of the earth. It should go, by its emissaries, into the highways and hedges, and compel men to come in, that the supper may be crowded with guests. Some plan of general operation should be devised, and carried into effect, under the guidance of the pastor, as the result of which the Gospel may be made known throughout the entire neighbourhood, so that its inhabitants may, at least, have an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the way of salvation. Failure, as it regards the success of these efforts, will doubtless pain, but it ought not to dispirit. Despair is always a bad counsellor : if the seed scattered by the sower does not spring up and bring forth fruit in this place, it may in that; if not at one time, it may at another. The voice says, “Be not weary in well doing, for in due time ye shall reap, if ye faint not." Gal. vi. 9.
But the immediate vicinity should not bound the exertions of a Christian church; and where the active, enterprising, ardent, benevolent spirit of eminent personal religion exists, it cannot be restrained within such paltry limits. Overleaping the enclosure, it expatiates at large; it aims to stimulate and strengthen the associated churches of the county in which it is located, and to aid them in their attempts to evangelize the whole of the district. It surveys the entire length and breadth of the nation ; entering with zeal into all those measures which are adapted to increase the number of the churches of the saints, and to provide for them a constant succession of pastors. Nor can the most distant boundary of the country limit its benevolence and its labours. The heart of Christianity is warm and expanded; its arms are far reaching, comprehending the world in their grasp. No church of the living God can, therefore, be satisfied till “ the whole earth is full of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the seas.”
It is the province of the church to evangelize the world: but as that work is far too mighty for the effort of any individual church, there should be a combination of churches for this purpose. Our missionary societies are not exactly combinations of churches; and, perhaps, on this account, their constitution and modes of procedure are not so perfect as it might be possible to render them: but, in spirit, the difference is so inconsiderable, that no Christian church, except one in name only, can hold back its support. It will aid by its exertions, its prayers, its pecuniary contributions.
THE OFFICERS OF A CHURCH.
These have been generally, and very properly, distinguished into ordinary and extraordinary. The extraordinary officers, comprehending prophets, apostles, evangelists, &c., were obviously appointed by the Redeemer to meet the emergency of the case. Christianity was then a new religion. No one, in the first instance, could in the slightest degree unfold its essential principles, its system of faith and practice, without a special revelation from God. And, even after the apostles had commenced their appropriate work of explaining and confirming the new religion, some time must necessarily elapse before any of those who received it could become qualified, by the use of ordinary means, to act as instructors of others. The Lord, therefore, graciously poured down upon the church a plentiful effusion of spiritual gifts. He qualified, by supernatural means, many men, besides the apostles, (whose specific work it was to plant the Gospel in the world by the power of that miraculous evidence which they were enabled to produce,) to act as pastors and teachers to the newly formed churches, until some of their members becoming, by ordinary means, fully instructed in the Gospel, should be able to edify their brethren, “to propagate their faith in the world, and to transmit it to posterity." When this should have become the case, all supernatural gifts were to cease. Now, as Jehovah invariably effects by natural means what is within their
reach and competency, never employing others unless his purposes cannot be effected without them, we might have assumed, without information, both that, in the infancy of the church, it would share richly in miraculous endowments, and that, when it should reach a state of comparative maturity, these endowments would be withdrawn. We are not left, however, without information. The Apostle Paul distinctly declares the purpose for which they were bestowed, and in what state of the church they were to cease. “ But unto every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ; for he saith, He ascended on high, he took captivity captive, he gave gifts to men. And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some pastors and teachers,” (i. e., extraordinary pastors and teachers, fitted for the work by miracle,) “ FOR (the sake of) FITTING THE SAINTS FOR THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY, for (in order to) the building of the body of Christ, TILL WE ALL COME TO THE UNITY OF THE FAITH, AND OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SON OF GOD, TO A PERFECT MAN, EVEN TO THE MEASURE OF THE STATURE OF THE FULNESS OF CHRIST." Eph. iv. 7, 16.
The preceding account alone would require us to decide concerning the pretensions of certain men, in the present day, to be the successors of the apostles,—that they are both arrogant and baseless. It may, however, be stated, in addition, that the following qualifications were essential to an apostle. He must have seen Christ after his resurrection, for the apostles were ordained to be witnesses of the resurrection. Hence Paul, in proof of his apostleship, says, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, ix. 1, “Have I not seen (referring to his journey to Damascus) the Lord ? ” It was again necessary that he should have the power of working miracles ; for that power was the exclusive prove of his Divine mission.
Truly,” said Paul to the Corinthians, 2nd Epistle, xii. 12, “the signs of an apostle were wrought among you,” “in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” There